The Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams are about to duke it out in the Battle for L.A. on Sunday afternoon.
Before the matchup, Rams Wire managing editor Cameron DaSilva spoke with us about Los Angeles’ opponent.
What should we expect from Baker Mayfield in this one? Is he operating mostly within the offense, or is it a good bit of freelancing still?
He’s certainly not freelancing and has actually played pretty well. There have been times when he’s late on a throw and nearly makes a costly mistake, but for the most part, he’s taking what the defense gives him and going through his reads the way the play was designed to. Sean McVay’s offense fits Mayfield really well, too. He’s had a lot of open receivers thanks to the route concepts, and when no one does get open, he’s able to extend plays with his legs and create off-script.
Cam Akers has come on as of late after struggling this season. What’s been his key to improvement, and how do the Chargers lock him up?
His vision has gotten much better in the last few weeks. Earlier this season, he wasn’t seeing cutback lanes and sometimes not hitting holes that the play was designed to create, so he’d get stuffed in the backfield. Now, he’s seeing lanes much better and when he does have a little room, he’s making defenders miss with his lateral agility and physicality. It’s been fun to watch him improve over the last month or so because it seemed like he’d played his last snap with the Rams before the trade deadline.
The Rams cranked up their usage of 12 personnel last week in their throttling of the Broncos. Would you expect that to continue on Sunday?
Absolutely. A big reason for that was the absence of Ben Skowronek, who’s out for the year. He blocks like a tight end and plays like a receiver, so he could do a little bit of everything. With him out again, I’d expect Brycen Hopkins to get more snaps alongside Tyler Higbee, and that should provide a spark in the running game, too.
Who are some under-the-radar defensive players that have improved for the Rams this season that Chargers fans need to look out for?
Cobie Durant has played really well the last four weeks as the Rams’ nickel corner, taking over for David Long Jr. and Derion Kendrick. He’s a playmaker and ball hawk in the secondary, picking off two passes last week against the Broncos – including an 85-yard pick-six. Michael Hoecht is another player to watch after transitioning from defensive tackle to edge rusher. He’s had some growing pains, particularly when facing motion and play action, but he can get after the quarterback.
What’s your prediction for the game?
I think the Rams will manage to keep it relatively close for about three quarters thanks to their defense, but the Chargers will make a few too many plays to pull away late. I just don’t think the Rams, who did score 51 against the Broncos, will have the offensive firepower to keep up with the Chargers. I’ll say the final score is 24-16.